Aug 8 2011

Beyond the Beach

Melissa Crytzer Fry

Yes, it’s been pretty wet in Arizona, but don’t be alarmed. We’re not beachfront property yet (as the photos below might suggest). This week, blogger and fellow Arizonan Shari Lopatin shares her love of the beach. Please give Shari a warm welcome and enjoy her prose and photos.


I once had a boyfriend who hated the beach. He thought it smelled like fish and garbage, and complained how the sand gets everywhere.

Thank God, he’s moved on, and so have I. Today, I can fall asleep on the beach with a like-minded partner, enveloped in the warmth of the fine sand, then submit myself to the ocean’s powerful waves. I would say I hope California really does fall into the ocean so we can get those beaches here in Arizona.

But then I’d miss California. So, I guess I’m screwed.

What is it about the beach?
I also love the Ponderosa Pine forest in Flagstaff. And the creek running through Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona (both of which are in Arizona, for those non-natives). But there’s just something extra special about the beach and the ocean.

After much contemplation, I’ve narrowed it down to this one reason: freedom.

The beach opens into the never-ending waters of the ocean. It’s unrestricted, it’s freeing, and it challenges you to wonder what’s beyond the horizon. Past explorers, such as Christopher Columbus and Cortés, couldn’t resist the beckoning of the ocean’s curiosity. They were not bound by the borders of the horizon. Instead, they dared to see what lived beyond it.

Yes, I think that’s why the beach earns first place on the list of Shari’s favorites. It’s the freedom to imagine.

For the writers …
I challenge you to be the Christopher Columbus of your own mind. Sail into the unknown waters and don’t be afraid to peek beyond the horizon. Picture the endless waves stretching into the distance and ask: “What might I find there?”

Will you confront your own fears about the depth of your own ocean? Sometimes that journey may lead to profound discoveries: we’re not happy with something in our lives, we recognize a hidden desire. But if you don’t explore those waters, what might you—and the world—be missing?

The great explorers of the literary world stretch from Jules Verne to Mark Twain and Aldous Huxley. Without their curiosity, we’d be at a loss today.

SO TELL ME: When you see the endless waters of the ocean, what do you imagine beyond the horizon?

(When you’re done responding to Shari’s thought-provoking questions, come visit me at Leah’s Thoughts, where I’m guesting on her blog this week.)


Shari Lopatin is a Phoenix-based professional writer, journalist, and media strategist who’s been published regionally, as well as nationally. She began her career as a newspaper reporter, earning two Associated Press awards as part of an investigative news team. She now works in the corporate world as a writer and media strategist, and continues writing for magazines on the side. Read more of Shari’s work on her blog, “Shari Lopatin: Rogue Writer,” where she posts every Thursday about writing tips, funny stories, industry news, and media strategies.

All photos in this post are the sole property of Shari Lopatin and cannot be reproduced or copied without permission.


23 Responses to “Beyond the Beach”

  • avatar Julia Munroe Martin Says:

    I love the beach, and it’s hard to imagine that everyone doesn’t…but to each his/her own! The beach and ocean are such a part of my everyday life on the coast of Maine, but when I look out over the horizon I usually don’t think of Maine but instead of the faraway places I’ve lived: Africa, Belize, California — and all my memories I’ve gathered in their wake. I also think of days when my children were small and their wonder of it all. You’ve given me such wonderful memories just reading this post! Thank you for that and your lovely photos!

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    Shari Lopatin Reply:

    Thanks Julia! I am so happy I was able to bring back some of those memories. 🙂 I have always wanted to visit Africa. How cool you lived there! Have you ever written about your experiences?

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    Melissa Reply:

    I love hearing about your travels, Julia. Thanks for giving us a morsel and for supporting Shari’s awesome blog post!

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  • avatar Melissa Says:

    Thanks, Shari, for the wonderful guest post. Like Julia, I can’t imagine anyone not being able to look out at the waters with that sense of wonder. Now getting IN the water is something entirely different (says the gal who is an “OK” swimmer, but gets a little panicky thinking about WHAT’s swimming under her feet).

    For me, when I look out at the endless waters, I think about tranquility and how lucky we are to see such sights and enjoy them. Since I’m rarely near water, I don’t have the opportunity to often be inspired by it. But I’d like to change that :-).

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    Shari Lopatin Reply:

    Melissa,

    Thank YOU for the opportunity to write this guest post for your blog! And for the challenge. I also feel very tranquil at the beach. It allows my soul to rest.

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    Julia Munroe Martin Reply:

    Haha, had to laugh at Melissa’s “what’s under the feet” comment, I’m the SAME way (why am I surprised?). I love looking at and wading in the ocean and lakes, but I do get a little creeped out by the below the surface stuff…

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    Melissa Reply:

    Julia- I actually start to hyperventilate until I get my “mind” under control. You should have seen me the first time I snorkled! Once I got myself calmed, I LOVED it, though.

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  • avatar Michele Says:

    Growing up in Idaho, I didn’t see my first ocean until around the age of 8 and never forgot it. Our aunt had a beach house on the Oregon Coast and that idyllic trip is forever etched into my memory. We now live in NC (near Charlotte, so inland) and try to make it to the beach each summer. I see the wonder of the world and hear the song of nature. I see Lewis and Clark arriving on the Western shore and Ben Franklin and John Adams sailing the Atlantic back and forth in treacherous water to found our Nation. It also reminds me of Gretel Ehrlich’s quote on history and divinity.

    Thank you for such a thought-provoking post.

    xoxo michele

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    Shari Lopatin Reply:

    Oh, I LOVE Oregon. I visited Portland for the first time nearly four years ago, and just fell in love with it. Thanks for your kind comments on my post!

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    Melissa Reply:

    I can relate to that feeling of “land-locked-ness” (OK – so I made up that word)… But growing up in PA (closer to Ohio), water wasn’t part of our lives. I do love it now!

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  • avatar Ariana Says:

    It’s the calmness of the ocean/sea/lake that speaks to me. I can spend hours just looking at the never ending waters and think about anything and everything. I have a hard time to chose between the waters and the mountains tho…

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    Shari Lopatin Reply:

    Me too, the ocean and the mountains are a hard decision for me as well. Sitting on the beach calms me and I can spend hours too, just thinking …

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  • avatar Cynthia Robertson Says:

    I love the beach! And yes, that’s the main thing Arizona lacks, and being a native Californian, I miss it.
    The beach always makes me feel small. The biggness of it reminds me of my place in the world/universe. And the pounding surf is like a mantra that calms the mind. It’s the perfect place to go and just BE.
    Thanks for sharing the lovely photos, Shari.

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    Shari Lopatin Reply:

    I bet being a native from California, you miss the beach! I feel its absence EVERY day of my life, too. I like your take on the beach, how it makes you feel small. I never thought of it that way, but now that you mention it, I feel the same way. Thanks for the kind words on my photos!

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  • avatar Natalia Sylvester Says:

    I’m happiest by the beach. Having moved away from South Florida last year, I appreciate it now more than ever.

    When I look at the ocean, it makes me feel small but meaningful, like there are so many possibilities out there that I am sure to conquer some of them. I love how it engulfs me and makes me forget the world. Thanks so much for a wonderful post (and such gorgeous pictures!).

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    Shari Lopatin Reply:

    Small but meaningful … what a perspective! I love it. 🙂 I can lose myself and the world at the ocean too. Thanks for the kind words on my photos!

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  • avatar Jolina Petersheim Says:

    For years my husband thought he hated the beach, but he still agreed on Hawaii for our honeymoon destination. While there, we hiked up through the mountains and snorkeled in the aqua waters. It was absolutely beautiful, and Randy now agrees that he had given the beach a negative opinion without ever really trying it out. I guess the same could be said for new writing techniques. We can’t count them out ’til we’ve tried them.

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    Shari Lopatin Reply:

    Hahaha! I’m glad you converted him. 🙂 Sounds like a beautiful honeymoon trip! I like how you compared that experience to new writing techniques. Any favorites you’ve tried?

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  • avatar Leah Says:

    Great post and I love those photos! While I’m not a huge beach fan in terms of sand, I still think the ocean and shore are some of the most gorgeous sites. I cannot imagine now having a beach to look at when I need that. Something about visiting the ocean (even if it’s just looking down upon it), always makes me feel calm and happy.

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    Shari Lopatin Reply:

    Thanks Leah!! Yes, I took them at Hunnington a couple of weeks ago, while there for vacation. You are so lucky to live SO CLOSE to the beach. I dream almost every day of having it so nearby. 🙂

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  • avatar Erika Marks Says:

    Shari, there is nothing more relaxing for me (and probably 99% of the rest of the world!) than being at the beach, walking along the surf, or just sitting in the sand and getting lost in the sounds and the smells and the scale of it. The ocean puts everything in perspective, every time. I miss it terribly! Thanks for sharing those gorgeous pictures!

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    Shari Lopatin Reply:

    Thank you for the kind comments on my photos! I’m happy I had a place to share them with so many enthusiasts. I also love walking along the surf or burying my feet in the sand. Time slows down at the beach …

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  • avatar Lori Parker Says:

    Hello Shari! Couldn’t agree with you more, even though I heart Arizona. If I could live the writing dream, it would be in Carlsbad, CA, right on beach. Does my writing scare me at times? Oh yeah… scary to go places you’re afraid to speak. Thanks for the reminder to keep going.

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